Principals have important role to play in environmental education

The Looking 2 Our Future environmental conference begins today, bringing together teachers and academics to discuss strategies around how schools can provide a better education for students about environmental sustainability.

The conference, which runs from 9am-3.45pm and is being held at the Mercure hotel in Sydney, is being organised by the Independent Education Union (IEU), which represents 33,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools in NSW and the ACT.

The conference is being held in the lead up to the Paris climate talks in December, in which France will host and preside over the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21).

With the talks approaching, the IEU is using today’s conference to rally schools around providing a better education for their students on the challenges of climate change and the benefits of environmental sustainability. 

The union’s deputy general secretary, Gloria Taylor, told The Educator that principals have “multiple opportunities” through the existing curriculum to ensure that their schools are providing a proper education of this issue.

“The Australian Curriculum in NSW provides multiple opportunities to address the cross-curriculum priority of education for sustainability,” Taylor said.

“This should give principals some confidence in meeting this need. There are also grants available and professional development opportunities. The Catholic system has a specific program on environmental education.” 

Taylor added that environmental sustainability education is high on the agenda given that it is “a cross-curriculum priority in the Australian curriculum”.

“There is growing momentum in the community at large and in schools to tackle climate change issues.

However, there are varying levels of response. Some schools are well advanced in their programs and others are engaged in early initiatives,” she said.

“Our members report high student engagement on this issue. The changes in schools range from solar panels, water tanks, gardens, ponds, worm farms and waste management in tandem with classroom learning.”

For more information on the conference, please click here

In The Educator magazine’s latest issue, our Innovative Schools list featured Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College, which has a focus on sustainability & the environment through its ‘Earth care, people care, fair share’ philosophy.